Shana did my makeup at 8 AM today and I've been wearing it ever since, careful not to touch my face or nap on my side or fall into character so deep I never make it back out of her at Midnight when hopefully I'll turn back into the Johnson Pumpkin we all know and lurve. 8 AM was the only time I could get Shana and Abril, our photographer, together at the same time this weekend to document the makeup process.
The barista at Shot In The Dark just asked me if I was a go-go dancer. I'm in full makeup, hair tied up like Pebbles Flintstone in black booty shorts, black hoodie and fish-netted to the nines with my yellow and navy Nike basketball high-tops making me look like some kind of Tranny Anime Daymare. "I wanna know what party you're going to," he says.
Shot In The Dark -- where I made the decision to do all of this all over again, bigger and better and bolder and golder. Shot In The Dark, where I spent every night after rehearsal in September and October from 10 PM to 4 AM, drawing and writing and crying over Luther's death -- not wanting to go home to my enormous tiny dog-less house.
In twenty minutes I'll walk over to The Screening Room to close the show with two likely sold-out performances. I couldn't have done this without Shana and Kara taking such good fucking care of Dani and I. Thanks to Abril, I'll never have to forget what almost every minute of it looked and sounded like. Thanks to Evan and Ashley, not too many people had to hear me kick and scream and cry about it. Thanks to Tucson, I raised a thumbnail short of $5,000 to get this motherfucker off the ground and on to her hands and knees. Thanks to Banjo, it's not a funeral.
See you tonight, for one last good-night.
Noticing in ticket sales that a lot of people are coming in groups. Lurve that.
Producing HEDWIG is going to get so crazy and out-of-hand, so quickly. Or is. Or maybe has. In a good way, in a chronically rapid fluttering between panic and joy way.
Had an interview with Kathleen Allen from the Arizona Daily Star today, have an interview Thursday with Dave Irwin from the Tucson Sentinel and possibly a beer/coffee in-makeup interview with Laura Owen from the Tucson Weekly later that night before performing at The Surly Wench. The Weekly preview feature came out of nowhere for me in expected coverage because Jimmy Boegle and Mari Herreras have both already blogged on the Weekly’s website about the show and how you all need to give me the monies -- and that support / coverage from them seemed like a lot already considering the TW doesn’t typically run print for theatre stuff outside of full reviews. But I’m thrilled that they are doing a full preview, especially with Laura Owen writing the piece.
We’re also getting t-shirts made to sell now, and are probably going to home-grow a cast recording and Abril (our photographer/videographer) has decided that we’re going to film a full-blown ‘Angry Inch’ music video in the streets. It’s just a whole lot of everything you want to do, make happen, brainstorm to bizzarely fruitful completion when procuding and directing and acting in a show. But completely horrifying.
I’m having a lot of waking nightmares about selling somewhere between zero and not nearly enough tickets, scraping through the production and then getting audited sometime next year. When you’re independantly producing the thing, you don’t have the luxury of simply hoping it doesn’t suck. I have to pay people actual amounts of money and still have enough left over to feed my dog and buy cigarettes and coffee creamer and pay rent.
And yep, I’m sure it’ll all be way more than fine. Until it is, though, I’m a-pooping in my pants-a. Today at work Joe asked me how HEDWIG was going and I said, “Good. I’m looking forward to the part where it’s all over, and it was just wonderful,” because that’s how it’s gonna be. And that sounds really nice and sad. It’s gonna be over so fast I’m almost tempted to begin mourning the show right now.
My Mom better fucking see it this time around.
The following served as the basis for not only "The Origin Of Love," but more specifically the entire character of Hedwig, who John Cameron Mitchell created to serve as a living, breathing personification of the ideas presented below. Enjoy.
In the first place, let me treat the nature of man and what has happened to it; for the original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word “Androgynous” is only preserved as a term of reproach. In the second place, the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond. He could walk upright as men do now, backwards or forwards as he pleased, and he could also roll over and over at a great pace, turning on his four hands and his four feet, eight in all, like tumblers going over and over with their legs in the air; this was when he wanted to run fast. Now the sexes were three; and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon and earth are three and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and moved round and round like their parents. Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and Ephialtes who, as Homer says, dared to scale heaven, and would have laid hands upon the gods. Doubt reigned in the celestial councils. Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained. At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He said: “Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again, and they shall hop about on a single leg.” He spoke and cut men in two, like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling, or as you might divide an egg with a hair; and as he cut them one after another, he bade Apollo give the face and the half of the neck a turn in order that the man might contemplate the section of himself; he would thus learn a lesson of humility. Apollo was also bidden to heal their wounds and compose their forms. So he gave a turn to the face and pulled the skin from the sides all over that which our language is called the belly, like the purses which draw in, and he made one mouth at the center, which he fastened in a knot (the same which is called the navel); he also molded the breast and took out most of the wrinkles, much as a shoemaker might smooth leather upon a last; he left a few, however, in the region of the belly and navel, as a memorial of the primeval state. After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one, they were on the point of dying from hunger and self-neglect, because they did not like to do anything apart; and when one of the halves died and the other survived, the survivor sought another mate, man or woman as we call them -- being sections of entire men or women -- and clung to that. They were being destroyed, when Zeus in pity of them invented a new plan: he turned the parts of generation round to the front, for this had not been always their position, and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest, and go their ways to the business of life: so ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man. Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his other half. Men who are a section of that double nature which was once called Androgynous are lovers of women; adulterers are generally of this breed, and also adulterous women do not care for men, but have female attachments; the female companions are of this sort. But they who are a section of the male follow the male, and while they are young, being slices of the original man, they hang about men and embrace them, and they are themselves the best of boys and youths, because they have the most manly nature. Some indeed assert that they are shameless, but this is not true: for they do not act thus from any want of shame, but because they are valiant and manly, and have a manly countenance, and they embrace that which is like them. And these when they grow up become our statesmen, and these only, which is great proof of the truth of what I am saying. When they reach manhood they are lovers of youth, and are not naturally inclined to marry or beget children -- if at all, they do so only in obedience to the law; but they are satisfied if they may be allowed to live with one another unwedded; and such a nature is prone to love and ready to return love, always embracing that which is akin to him. And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Suppose Hephaestus, with his instruments, to come to a pair who are lying side by side and to say them, “What do you people want of one another?” they would be unable to explain. And suppose further, that when he saw their perplexity he said: “Do you desire to be wholly one; always day and night to be in one another’s company? For if this is what you desire, I am ready to melt you into one and let you grow together, so that being two you shall become one, and while you live a common life as if you were a single man, and after your death in the world below still be one departed soul instead of two -- I ask whether this is what you lovingly desire -- and whether you are satisfied to attain this?” -- there is not a man of them who when he heard the proposal would deny or would not acknowledge that this meeting and melting into one another, this becoming one instead of two, was the very expression of his ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called love. There was a time, I say, when we were one, but now because of the wickedness of mankind God has dispersed us, as the Arcadians were dispersed into villages by the Lacedaemonians. And if we are not obedient to the gods, there is a danger that we shall be split up again and go about in bas relief, like the profile figures having only half a nose which are sculptured on monuments, and that we shall be like tallies. Wherefore let us exhort all men to piety, that we may avoid evil, and obtain the good, of which love is to us the lord and minister; and let no one oppose him -- he is the enemy of the gods who opposes him. For if we are friends of the God and at peace with him we shall find our own true loves. I believe that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then our race would be happy.
--Translated by Benjamin Jowett
It’s Thursday, which means a couple of things... 1.
Our first week of HEDWIG rehearsals has come to an end. Sunday we had our official photo shoot with full costume and makeup (pictures primarily intended for marketing and press materials) and the band worked out some more musical kinks in their process of learning the score. Monday we workshopped the first half of the score, Tuesday the second half and last night we played through the whole damn show. We have two more weeks of rehearsal left before we move into Tech Week at The Screening Room.2.
Dani and I have to return to our non-HEDWIG reality tonight for the final 5 performances of MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN at The Rogue Theatre.3.
HEDWIG opens 3 weeks from today.
Two things happened to my voice this week. I learned that in my time at The Rogue over the past year and a half and I have aquired much, much more technical knowledge about how to fucking sing, as well as an enormously higher confidence about doing so -- which I think comes not only from working at The Rogue but from simply having already mostly kicked this show’s ass in this role (closing 4 years ago this weekend, as a matter of fact). The other thing that happened to my voice this week is that it was completely fucking haggard by the time last night’s rehearsal came around. Singing this show at full volume and energy for 3-ish hours a night is murder. Singing ‘Angry Inch’ 4 or 5 times in a row is enough itself to shut my singing voice down for a month -- but I managed to get through, and look forward to conditioning my voice for the run. Fortunately the full production is going to be a breeze compared to rehearsing. The show is barely 90 minutes long and includes lots of breaks for monologues and audience abuse, etc., and is nothing at all like rehearsing in our dungeon over at Dry River, over and over again. It’s the repetition that’s killing me (and I couldn’t be happier about that).
Next week’s rehearsals will be structured similarly to how we worked these past four days, in that we’ll work the show in halves and likely end the week with working the whole thing. What we’re adding Monday is the actual play itself, rehearsing in staging formation (as opposed to how we’re set up right now, which is in an inward-facing circle) and actually rehearsing all the monologues / dialogue, etc., that make up the narrative. A couple of the guys in the band have never seen this play or the movie version of it before and I’m looking forward to just being alongside them as they encounter this beautifully profound, wildly funny and emotionally raw story / characters for the very first time.
Despite having played the role before and the fact that I’m getting ready to do it a second time now, I’ve never actually seen a production of HEDWIG on stage before. However, the movie version was an incredibly intense piece for me to be exposed to in High School. Excluding just how strongly I related to and admired the entire piece as a not only burgeoning performance artist and full-blown gender queer, I also just frankly adored John Cameron Mitchell’s performance in much the same way teenage girls swoon at the Justins Beiber and / or Timberlake. The iconic red glitter lipstick just fucking killed me. I would stare at stills from the film of Mitchell’s mouth, not with a desire for the actor but for the character -- to put that makeup on both literally and figureatively. My boyfriend at the time and I drove to Phoenix to see HEDWIG before it was known whether or not it was going to play in Tucson. I wept, as I am prone to do when a piece of art manages to get under my shell, and spent the next week jumping up and down every time HEDWIG sang or spoke again in my head.
When the movie came to Tucson, playing for several weeks at the now-defunt Catalina Theatre on Campbell and Grant, we went again and again and again -- sometimes I went by myself. I would sit there in the dark alone and spend the whole movie waiting for the part during ‘Wig In A Box’ where the audience is instructed to sing along. My mother didn’t like the sound of any of this, despite having no idea what it was or was about -- she could just tell, apparently, that I had found my way towards something significant in my life, a life she didn’t yet understand or necassarily want to.
At the end of the day, a decade after meeting her, HEDWIG isn’t something I’m doing as an actor or a director or a theatre producer so much as She is an utterly integral form / means of expressing myself as an artist and a sexual and emotional human being that just inherently lives now in some weird place inside of me. It’s the same place that drives me to paint sets until 4 AM every couple of weeks and beg friends for money to put on a show, the same place where I keep the hundreds of hours of lines I’ve memorized over the last ten or twelve years, the place that has conspired to make most of my personal wardrobe and furniture originate in plays that have or have not yet been produced. The place where I am full, but can always always always be more so.
That is, in a roundabout kind of way, what HEDWIG is about, to and for me, as well as in a much broader way what the play is really about -- the work and hurt and joy in being a whole person no matter how fucked up you are or have been or will be. The great thing about being born without instructions is that you get to fucking write them yourself.
This last picture is actually from a day or two after the night of the photo shoot as the band and Dani rehearse a much harder-sounding rendition of 'The Long Grift.' So fucking good.
Holy shit I’m so po’ I can’t afford the o-r.
My budget for HEDWIG is somewhere in the $8,000 area right now -- and I only make a LEETLE bit over $13,000 a year. I’ve raised just over $3,000 for this production (all of it spent already on royalties, marketing, costumes, etc.), which when combined with my income means that I’m roughly spending half of my entire annual salary on this production, which would be a lot easier if I spent it over the course of the entire year as opposed to what I’m actually doing which is spending half my annual income in the span of about two months. I should have budgeted for cigarettes. I have $2.33 in my bank account right now. There’s a shit-ton of money in my PayPal account but that goes as fast as it comes since ticket sales haven’t completely taken off yet and donations have pretty much come to a complete halt.* I don’t have anything left to pawn, either.
So yeah, today I’m begging Hell’s Angels for cigarettes and eating baby carrots for dinner.
Fortunately, the photos we took over the weekend are fucking fantastic and our first week of rehearsal is going really, really well. The band is painfully talented and David Lane is doing a really wonderful job as Music Director.
Sent the full press release out today and tomorrow afternoon we're going to start releasing YouTube videos about the process and some sneak peaks at the show in action. Check back lots and like Hedwig on Facebook by clicking the little purple-nurple of a FB logo in the upper right-hand corner of this web page.
*As soon as I wrote this blog my sister made a last-minute donation (bringing us closer to $3,500!) and someone called to buy her husband 10 tickets for his birthday. Hoo-tah.